How to Teach People with Learning Disabilities

b4Most places we go, we find people with learning disabilities. We might not recognize instantly they have it. But with time, we realize that having learning disabilities is a real concept. A learning disability occurs when a person has reduced the intellectual ability to understand certain activities. Individuals who have learning disabilities take longer time to learn things. They may need help to cultivate new skills, comprehend complex information and even to relate with other people.

Learning disorders is a generic term for an extensive range of learning issues. The most common problems are matters that border on speaking, listening, writing, math, reading and reasoning. Learning disabilities is not peculiar to kids alone. There are adults in the world today who have been experiencing it since childhood. There are also some grown-ups who have it because of an ailment or an accident that affected their ability to learn.

People in this category can have a minor or a severe learning disability. Individuals with small ones can do things with minimal support. Those with severe disability need constant care and attention. They always need support either in school or at home to get necessary things done. Friends and families of people with learning disabilities are often bothered about their needs. The biggest worry on their minds is how they can teach them to learn and understand things without treated differently by the society. They also wonder how they can help them understand concepts quicker. Here are some proven ways you can use to help your ward, sibling, friend or student that has difficulty learning:

Review your Teachings Constantly: A lot of people with learning disabilities are prone to forget new things teachers or parents taught them. However, it not their fault. It just takes longer for them to process information. The best way to make sure they understand you taught your lessons is to review the topics with them. Ask them questions about it. Ask them to explain the concepts to you. Ask them to tell you the meaning of words. If you are a teacher, review what you taught in the last class previously before proceeding to another topic. By doing this, you refresh their memory over and over again. With time, you will not need to talk about it with them because they have already grasped it.

Simplify Information: You need to break down information before presenting it to them. In other words, simply the tasks for them. People without learning disabilities understand rapidly. However, if you throw too much information at them without giving them an opportunity to process it, they will not understand. It is the same thing for people with learning disabilities. The only difference is the time they take to process information. The best strategy to use is chunking. Chunking is teaching in bits while seeking confirmation of understanding along the way. This aids them not to get overwhelmed and frustrated. It also helps the person teaching not to get discouraged.

Ask Questions and Get Answers: Nobody has ever gone wrong in this world by asking questions. Questions seek explanation on vague and ambiguous points while solutions provide clarity. As a person teaching, make sure you always ask questions along the way and get positive answers before proceeding.

Ask for Explanations in Their Own Words: After every lesson, ask these people if they understood what you taught them. If you are teaching a child with learning disability, the first things to do is to make sure he/she comprehends the concept. If you teach an adult with learning disabilities “how to be social and make friends”, make sure he/she understands the topic very well. You can do this by asking them to explain the topic using their own words. Doing this will help you understand their misconception and their mistakes

Practical Teaching: This method of teaching has proven useful to teach all sorts of people. Scaffolds act as teaching aids. Practical teaching involves making use of flashcards, charts and cue cards to help people learn and re-learn. Flashcards are used to refresh the memory of students. Scaffolds help people with learning disabilities think more clearly. Teachers know that when they are teaching a new and more challenging concept, students will certainly make mistakes. To avoid this, they make cards or a chart of possible errors they can make. If you use this method to teach someone with learning disability, he/she will avoid mistakes when asked a question because he is conscious of the errors.

Acknowledge Every Win: Another way to teach is by acknowledging and commending them. If the person you are teaching understands a concept, do not downplay it. Show them that you are proud of their success in learning the topic. It might seem like a small step to you. But to them, it might be the biggest step they have taken in a long time. This method is also effective because by acknowledging them, they might be more open to your way of teaching. It could help them pay attention to you better, too. If you are trying to teach a life lesson such as morals, manners, friendliness, respect or kindness, showing it in your attitude to them will go a long way. Mere theoretical teaching can only do so much. Actions always speak louder than words.

Use Different Models of Teaching: The best teachers know and understand the essence of models. Models show examples of severe problems already solved. A particular learning disability is dyscalculia. Dyscalculia occurs when a person has difficulty with anything that is related to Mathematics. They have problems with the memorization and organization of numbers. Teaching people like this takes patience and calmness. Using different models to teaching helps you simplifies your work. This include using all the above steps in a balanced manner.

Bottom Line

The truth is that it is not an easy job to teach people like this. It is challenging and demanding. Whether you are acting in your capacity as an employee, friend, sibling or parent in the life of such individuals, remember that this issue is a life-long problem. The person you are teaching is a human being and did not ask for the disability. It just happened. Moreover, the fact that they have a disability does not stop them from succeeding in other areas of life. Show them care support. And be helpful to them!

Photo Credit: Locallyhealth